We all have heard of monsters under the bed, the eerie myth associated with the fear of nighttime. But when it comes to a designer, a Lebanese one nonetheless, it can be a safe space where imagination runs free. Meet Hussein Bazaza, who claims the idea to be his sanctuary and the source of inspiration behind his latest collection titled ‘Under My Bed’. The pieces were a year in the making and designed in Beirut despite all odds that continue to face its people.
“The place under my bed was not envisioned as a spooky or scary space; on the contrary, it carries a lot of beading and shine, a fancy atmosphere filled with sparkles of hope apparent in all the intricate beadworks on our gowns,” says the designer of the pieces that bring together fabric like chiffon, tweed, tulle leather, denim, and lace. Taking after the fairies and mythical creatures under one’s bed, the designs come alive with sculptural and textured details reminiscent of scales, wings, and feathers, and elements like petals, mushrooms, snakes, and eyes. The designer’s signature color palette of vibrant hues is emboldened this time as Bazaza created them to pop against a pitch-black room, similar to the colors one sees on tightly shut eyes.
Below, the designer speaks to Vogue Arabia about working from Beirut, the mindset behind his latest collection, what’s next for the much-loved brand, and much more.
Why did you choose to continue operating from Beirut despite challenges?
Leaving Beirut was never an option; it isn’t easy to let go of the home you’ve built everything in after all these years, to leave your family and friends behind for hope outside of your country. It makes me miserable to think I might be happier abroad. Every Lebanese has a love-hate relationship with Beirut and it is just the way it is. Toxic, but we can never let go.
How did Covid-19, the Beirut blast, and the subsequent situation affect your creativity?
I started questioning my creativity even before Covid hit, so when we went into the pandemic and had the country in flames in parallel, it was a lot of fear of the unknown in the beginning. As we got accustomed to the situation sadly, I decided to take it as a break to step back, slow down and stop being harsh on myself. To look for the answers I needed to the questions and doubts I had instead. I started experimenting with new things within my scope of work and out of it; from self-discovery and self-care to sometimes self-sabotage. I had to go through all of this to slowly come out of it with my creativity not only back but also in full force.
As a Lebanese designer, do you feel a certain pressure to counteract the hardships of your people with your work?
Being Lebanese, the pressure has been embedded in us from the start. It is almost innate. We have to constantly work harder every day and smarter than others to prove ourselves to the world, lift our people up and show everyone we are worthy with our talents and our capabilities. It will always be one of the core sources of my work.
How did the Under My Bed collection come to be?
I’ve been working on this collection for the past year now and the inspiration came directly after a moment in bed, in the space of time when you’re about to drift off to sleep but your mind is still racing. I had this curiosity about finding the source of the originality of one’s ideas. It was simply an epiphany that stuck and affected the creation of this collection. I wanted it to really speak about my contemplation and resonate with the audience, and every time I’d try to envision it again, it would take me to a void black room with a lot of colors and sparkles, which is how I brought it to life.
What were the best and the most challenging parts about creating this collection?
The best part about it was that I was really free in creating whatever I wanted without putting myself under any sort of pressure; no specific deadline, season, or guideline for trend forecasts. It was just flowing out of me without the usual restrictions. But the hardest part was that I actually got stuck under my bed, in my thoughts and theories running through my head, as if I really was in a black hole and this collection was my way of getting out of it.
What are your favorite pieces from the collection?
My favorite piece is the mini dress featuring cutouts along the entire piece and fully adorned in geometric cuts and color-blocking beadwork. Not only does it have more than one of our signature techniques, but it also holds this sexy aura to it, which I was aiming to translate as a new provocative feel to the brand.
What’s next for Bazaza the brand?
As we are getting more into our bags line, I’m looking to expand it even further in the future as I truly loved working and designing this season’s accessories. We are currently also working on launching a capsule collection for men this Christmas, which would of course be available on our online store, while definitely creating our two main collections per year in parallel.
I’m honestly always open to whatever project comes along the way and exploring upcoming opportunities so we’ll have to wait and discover together.